Because I know he won't quit bugging me if I don't ... I liiiiiike him. :) But he liiiiiikes me, too.

Yes, I am once again dating someone. His name's Bobby, but I will refer to him as Kettle from this point on (because that is HIS nickname). I'm sure the two people (besides Kettle) that read this would love to hear about how this happened. I've made mention of him a couple of times previously. We've known each other for about five years (he thinks it's six, because he can't count); we met when we both worked at the Ledger during the summer of '02. He's been after me for a while, and I've been valiantly resisting - until recently.

Things definitely change, and I think both of us are proof of that. And we have both been a little surprised - with ourselves and with each other. We're still in the sort of casual stage, and we are trying to take things slowly. He lives in Enterprise/Daleville, and I live in Tuscaloosa, so we've been seeing each other as much as possible while I have been visiting my parents. It's actually been really nice - for various reasons. ;) That's for your benefit, Kettle.

I'm trying to remember what other areas of my life I should update.

My visit with my family has been really fantastic. My mom showed me how to do some things on the sewing machine; I'm still reasonably clueless, but I at least know how to get started now. We'll see where that goes. Today my sister Amy came over and brought Sarah-Grace, Jerred and Drew with her. I had a lot of fun with the kids. They are the cutest kids in the world, and I, of course, am not biased at all when I say that. I've also gotten to spend a fair amount of time with Meemaw and Aunt Janice, who's visiting from Texas. We played Skipbo Sunday afternoon, a tradition that has carried over from visits even during my childhood. I remember sweltering summer nights in Fort Worth with Aunt Janice, Meemaw, Mama, Jacque and any other random assortment of friends and family members, huddled around a wooden table playing Uno or some other card game.

I finished reading another book, and this was another great read. Prisoners of Hope is a true account of Heather Mercer's and Dayna Currie's imprisonment by the Taliban just before 9/11. They were Christian aid workers and were accused of attempting to convert Afghans to Christianity. While the sentence for this was supposed to be 3-10 days in prison, they got shuffled around the Afghani legal system for several months before finally escaping once the Taliban regime in Kabul fell to the Northern Alliance. I also started Red and Blue God, Black and Blue Church, but I'm not terribly impressed with it so far. I told Kettle that I am apparently on a non-fiction kick, though, because this will be the third non-fiction book in a row that I've read.

The clothes fast is going great so far. It has led me so far to begin to have a different perspective on settling for the status quo. Why on earth would I want to look exactly the same as everyone else? Why would I take so much pride in having a pair of shoes or a shirt or a skirt that hundreds/thousands of other girls also have? These thoughts carry over to other parts of my life as well, certainly.

Well, I guess that's about it for now. I am looking forward to Chrysalis this weekend. I am not looking forward to going back to Tuscaloosa on Monday.
Ah, so much to say, so little time.

The past week has been excessively interesting.

I had coffee with Anneliese and Margaret Ila last Thursday. On the way to have coffee, I spotted this crazy guy in a black-and-white camouflage bucket hat, white pants and a jersey walking/running down the middle of the road. As I swerved around El Loco, I noticed that he was making his way toward a woman in a white car who was sporadically pulling backward and forward. She looked angry. He was shouting. There was a gray backpack on the ground behind the car. I continued driving to Bad Ass, where I met up with my friends.

As I was standing in line with Anneliese, she proclaimed, "I have to tell you about these crazy people at my apartment complex!" So she goes on to tell me about how, as she was cleaning out her car earlier in the evening, this woman came running out of one of the other apartments, jumped in a car and took off in a huff. As she was speeding out of the parking lot, a man ran out after her, shouting, "Can I at least get my backpack?" He was wearing a black-and-white camouflage bucket hat, white pants and a jersey. Yeah, same people.

We eventually figured out that the woman was actually running back and forth over his backpack. Anneliese reports that she hasn't seen them since. Not sure if I should be concerned...

As we sipped on our coffee, the topic of Mr. Cod also came up. Mr. Cod is the church that is moving into the same building as Vineyard, where I go to church. Mr. Cod is Ministry of Reconciliation Church of Deliverance. We decided that we really should write a book about the crazy couple and Mr. Cod. It would be a best-seller. We would have a soundtrack.

In other news, my car decided on Monday that she hates me.

My front driver's side tire has been deflating steadily for a couple weeks. I added air to it a couple of times, but I think driving to Montgomery on Saturday was the final straw for it. It was fairly flat Sunday after church, but I figured I would just air it up at the gas station on Monday morning, then get it patched/replaced.

Alas, this was not to be.

When I got up Monday morning, the tire was as flat as it could be. Thankfully, I had e-mailed my boss Sunday night to let her know I would be taking a half-day off on Monday. So I sat in my car and called my roadside assistance, then I got out of the car, locked it, and slammed the door shut - with my keys still sitting on the seat.

The feeling of knowing that your keys are still in the car as the door shuts is the worst.

I went back up the my house and rattled the door handle, in hopes that I had either forgotten to lock it or that by some fluke it would magically open for me anyway. I circled the house, looking for a window that I could climb through, knowing that if I could just get into my bedroom, I could grab my spare car key and my problem would be solved. No luck.

Finally, I had to call Chris to get him to track down Dianne, who has a spare key to our house. He was still half asleep, and Dianne was already at work, so this led to lots of extra time between when I called and when I actually got the key. At some point during all this, the auto repair guy, who looked amazingly like a pirate ('do-rag, earrings, scruffy facial hair), appeared to put my spare tire on for me - except that he couldn't get the spare tire out of my trunk because I didn't have the key. The Pirate made the best of the situation and attempted to resuscitate my dead-as-a-doornail tire with his air pump. It did not work.

Finally Chris arrived with my house key, and I was able to get my spare car key and get the spare tire on. It was a heck of a morning.

I'm seriously looking forward to some time off and away. I have to work a half-day tomorrow, then I am off until June 5. I'm going to visit my parents. I'll attend my cousin's graduation, hang out with that guy that just won't leave me alone [;)], spend time with my family, go to a Chrysalis meeting and the actual Chrysalis and probably take some photos somewhere along the way.

Hooray for time off!
3:16 PM | Author: Misty
I purchased my plane tickets to California today!

The Mexico portion of the trip didn't work out, unfortunately, but I'm still going to get to visit Barbara in San Francisco and Terri and (hopefully) Veronica in Los Angeles! I'm going to spend about 4 days in SF followed by 3 days in LA. I love adventures, and this is a particularly exciting one!

PLUS I get to see Lorna when I visit New Orleans in July!!! Even more reason to be super excited. :)
3:52 PM | Author: Misty
I'm pretty happy with where I am right now.

It's funny, a few weeks ago, I pretty much had a total meltdown driving home from Fort Walton. I was miserable. I felt trapped.

Four hours, a lot of crying and yelling at God and several phone calls later, I began to feel OK again. I credit this mostly to God smacking me in the back of the head and reminding me that I don't have to be afraid. Also good was the phone conversation with Ashley where I was actually able to open up and share some of what I have been going through. I don't think I've ever done that, and it felt really good.

I've finished reading two new books in the past month and have started on a third one. I'm writing. I had a date Saturday, and another one this weekend. (And I'm not going to elaborate much on that, because I know Bobby will read this... ;))

I also got to spend quality time with my family this weekend, which is something I neglect all too often. I took some more good photos. And this morning I got up on time for work, which is no small feat for me.

A few things have been on my mind today (some for the past few days). The first is that I'm ready to stop feeling sorry for the way other people treat me; I'm deciding to be the bigger person but to also recognize when someone's flinging crap at me. I will not degrade myself or allow anyone else to do it, either, but I will love rather than judge. That's a tough one, and it's going to take some work for me.

Another thing that's been on my mind is the year-long clothes fast. I am going to do it. Today is officially day 1. I e-mailed Diane, who write the article I linked to in my last post, and she says she will be glad to offer support and encouragement however she can. I also sent her a few questions that I had. I'm not sure exactly how it's going to work out or what concessions I will make for myself (still working on those), but I think it's going to be an incredible year.

I've also been pondering what I will do come August. I am leaning more and more toward moving to Birmingham. I really feel the need for a change, but I'm not sure that I'm ready for moving really far away yet. Birmingham is far enough away that I could get involved with some stuff in the city if I wanted to, but I could also continue to attend Vineyard (where I go to church now) and still see my friends in Tuscaloosa pretty regularly. So I looked at some apartments in Birmingham today and even e-mailed an inquiry about one complex. I'm not sure how the job situation will look, but hopefully something will come up either in Birmingham or Tuscaloosa or somewhere in between. And, if not, I am still open to the possibility of moving elsewhere.

So, yeah. Things are looking good. I have 15 days off this summer, and I'm working on scheduling those so I can spend time with family members I don't get to see that often, go to New Orleans and go to California (and hopefully Mexico ... still waiting to hear about that).
And why not?
1:15 AM | Author: Misty
Today I happened across this article on Burnside Writers' Collective.

This woman, Diane Nienhuis, decided to follow in the steps of Penny (of Blue Like Jazz quasi-fame) and give up buying clothes for a year. It's worth reading if you have a few minutes.

Here's my response, as posted on the Burnside site:

Diane, thank you for sharing about your journey. You've really given me something to think about.

It's funny, I've read BLJ, and I don't even remember the part you are talking about (no offense, Penny). Apparently that wasn't the time in my life when I really needed to hear that. But I think this is.

I can easily identify with Kristi, who said, "I use fashion to get love." I'm realizing more and more that I am letting the wrong things define who I am. Why is it that buying a $20 skirt will make me feel so much better when I've had a bad day? The answer, of course, is that the skirt doesn't make me feel better; it's the idea of getting compliments and being admired because I have something cool, shiny and new that will be out of style in three weeks.

I also just finished reading Through Painted Deserts (another D.Miller book), and a particular passage near the end of the book really struck me. Speaking of God: "Even if I want to run, it isn't really what I want - what I want is Him, even if I don't believe it. If He made all this existence, you would think He would know what He is doing, and you would think He could be trusted. Everything I want is just Him, to get lost in Him, to feel His love and more and more of this dazzling that He does."

If this is true, and I believe it is, then what I'm wanting when I buy clothes is really Him. I want approval, love, appreciation. If I believe that He's a good God, then I believe that He can provide those things. But that's not the way I live.

So, like I said, you've given me something to think about, Diane.

I don't know if I'm going to start my own fast, but I'm definitely going to consider it.

I really may do it. I think it would be hard for me, but I think it would be good for me, too. I'm going to try to decide for sure before the weekend's up.
Summer readin', had me a blast...
1:05 AM | Author: Misty
So, I've finally started in on the giant pile of books that I own that I haven't read. Actually, I guess I started on them a couple weeks ago, but I've now finished A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith (great book!) and Through Painted Deserts by Donald Miller, author of Blue Like Jazz. I just finished Deserts last night and wanted to share a tidbit:
Scientists have always been baffled about all of this something having to come from nothing, and I wonder what kinds of worlds the nothingness must inhabit. I wonder at what Paul said back in Portland, how God is good, how it doesn't do any good to run from Him because what He has is good and who He is, is good. Even if I want to run, it isn't really what I want - what I want is Him, even if I don't believe it. If He made all this existence, you would think He would know what He is doing, and you would think He could be trusted. Everything I want is just Him, to get lostin Him, to feel His love and more and more of this dazzling that He does. I wonder at His beautiful system and how it feels better than anything I could choose or invent for myself. I wonder as I gaze up at the night sky, this love letter from God to creation, this reminder that somewhere there is peace, somewhere there is order, and I think about how great His kingdom is, and is going to be, and I wonder, in this rare and beautiful moment, how I could ever want to walk away from it all. There are so many stars I will dream of them. I open my eyes and see stars, then close them and see stars. In the morning the sun will rise, the flowers will bloom in the spring, squirrels will perform acrobatic jumps from treetops to treetops, babies will gurgle, and I consider how delightful everything is. I remember as well what Paul had said in the canyon, about how what we used to want was cars and money and stuff and then all we wanted was a bowl of cereal, and I actually laugh out loud about it because right now we're here. I have absolutely nothing. I have no money and no home and nothing but a pair of good shoes and a sleeping bag, and I am finally seeing how good life is, how beautiful it is.
Yeah, this was another good book. It made me want to go on an adventure. Honestly, reading this book has really opened me up to apply for jobs in places outside of Tuscaloosa. I'm OK with staying here, but I'm OK with moving on, too. And I'm trusting.

Current read: The Winter of Our Discontent, Steinbeck

In other news, I might be going to Mexico after all! I don't want to go into too many details in case it falls through, but if God works it out, it's going to be really awesome!
Japanese homeless
8:04 PM | Author: Misty
This story on caught my eye because it was about Japan and Japanese.

Basically, the story is about how a lot of younger generation workers in Japan are having problems keeping regular jobs and making enough money to pay rent regularly; apparently there was some sort of deal in Japan in the mid-90s where then-employees were guaranteed a job for life. Now when there are job openings, corporations are snatching up new college graduates, and the in-between workers, called "freeters", are getting passed over.

The really interesting thing is that these freeters have started taking up residence in cyber cafes in Tokyo. Apparently the cyber cafes stay open 24 hours, and a person simply pays for his or her seat and is given free drinks and allowed to read Manga comics for as long as the seat is paid for. And as long as the Yen have been provided, the person can also use the seat to sleep in. These places even provide showers. And they are cheaper than hotels.

Living in a cyber cafe has become an exceptionally popular thing to do, and besides the freeters, there are even more homeless Japanese who live solely on the streets because they can't keep a regular enough job to afford living in the cyber cafe. According to the article, the government has not performed too much research into the phenomenon as of now.

This gives an interesting view into the younger generation and Japan's culture, I think. It seems so against the grain for these Japanese in the younger generation to be relegated to live in an Internet cafe when the culture heavily pushes maintaining polite and proper appearances and also demands that the young take care of the old. At the same time, it makes sense that this culture has caused these younger people to feel a sense of shame and reluctance to return to their families to ask for help, because they are not doing what is expected of them.

It's sort of a catch-22.

I'm not sure how Japan will handle this problem. I'm afraid that the answer may be one that I don't like.
Substance? Me?
12:59 PM | Author: Misty
Occasionally I feel like I should blog about something substantive, as if my two cents might contribute some small something to the wide world of the Web. I guess maybe that's why I rarely blog, much less blog about important stuff, because I don't see what difference it makes.

At the same time, I think in some ways, this is a sign that I have lost sight of something I once loved dearly: Writing, just for the fun of it. I think part of this came from college essays sucking the creativity out of me by forcing me to subscribe to some certain format or a specific type of rhetorical criticism (Neo-Aristotelian was a particularly bad one).

But I really believe another, larger, part has to do with me.

I recently read a post on the Relevant Message Boards that posed this question: "Why do our lives not look the way we want them to?" And this question sort of set me to thinking. My response was that, for me, it's because being the way I am is easier than becoming the way I want to be.

The problem with this is that becoming so satisfied with the way I am is causing me to live a life that lacks passion and desire. Sure, I have things I want or would like to do, but it's so much easier to just continue the same old, everyday routine.

Lately I feel like God has been trying to pull me out of this. In some points I am providing a good amount of resistance; in other areas, it feels like the most natural thing in the world. I am having to rethink what's important to me, and that's not the easiest thing in the world. I am also having to determine, really for the first time, what I actually want my life to look like. For a long time, my life has been defined for me: Daughter, child, softball player, smart kid, college student, grad student. Now it's time for me to define me, and that's sort of scary and exciting at the same time.

I want to read books like I did when I was a kid - for the enjoyment of it and to learn.

I want to write and re-learn how to use my written words to express myself.

I want to spend time outside and enjoy nature and take pretty photos.

I want to be a loving, supportive friend who pays attention to what's going on in the lives of my friends rather than overlooking it when it's convenient.

I want to learn how to live on a budget so that I can actually save money toward things I want and not waste so much money on stuff I don't even need.

I want to be more aware of what's going on in the world.

I want to be an open, transparent person who can commit herself to friendship without expecting something in return.

Like I said before, God has been working on me. It's already started. I need prayers and support to be open to what he's doing. I can see that this is the time in my life when this needs to happen.

I don't understand your ways
Oh, but I will give you my song
I give you all of my praise
You hold on to all my pain
And with it you are pulling me closer,
Pulling me into your ways

So around every corner
And up every mountain
I'm not looking for crowns
Or the water from fountains
I'm desperate in seeking,
Frantic believing
That the sight of your face
Is all that I'm needing

I will say to you...

It's gonna be worth it
It's gonna be worth it
It's gonna be worth it all
I believe this

You're gonna be worth it
You're gonna be worth it
You're gonna be worth it all

Worth It All", Rita Springer